Kashkaval is a type of cheese?

Yep! According to Wikipedia it is a specific type of yellow sheep milk cheese, which I’m sure it is, but in my mind, Kashkaval is one of my favorite restaurants (possibly my number ONE favorite) in the city. I came across this divine little Mediterranean wine and cheese shop at 56th and 9th the first year I moved to NYC and I probably eat there at least once a month. In October it received a Michelin Guide recommendation. It’s small and cozy, and almost always a wait to be seated. If you don’t mind a short wait with a glass of wine, they can usually accommodate you at the bar faster than a table, which I actually prefer. If you don’t feel like waiting or want to eat at home, their Tapas are available to go! They also have various cheeses, meats and specialty items available to go. It’s a great place to go on a date, or a catch up with friends. And yes, if you’re wondering, I’ve sat at the bar alone and ate!!! They still serve you and treat you like a human!

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

1. The sampler plate – large or small. This is my usual go to – you can select up to 5 or 6 of the tapas served with pita bread. My all time favorite dip is the deep purple beet skordalia. Its a delicious mix of baked beets, garlic and other spices and herbs, with more of a dense texture than say a guacamole. I do not think they could make beets taste any better. It’s not too rich, and while I’m always a fan of extra garlic, enough people (particularly my mom who is not a fan of too much garlic) don’t find it offensive. My next favorite dip is the roasted red pepper spread (Ajvar). Again they have found a way to masterfully combine roasted red bell peppers and garlic, with a bit of a spicy kick. Their artichoke dip is light and fresh, with olive oil and lemon, sans mayonnaise.  Every time I go I get these three, and then change up the others. They have 17 different tapas to select from and I don’t think you can go wrong. I do have to say I’ve never tried the Taramasalata (fish roe, potatoes, olive oil and lemon juice) as it looks a bit like fish foam, but I see other people order it, so it must be good. Perhaps they would give me  a sample and I could update you folks. But I digress. The small is enough to share, but I lack self restraint and always say the large is what 2 people need (he he). If I’m getting takeaway I get the sampler to-go, which is a choice of 4 tapas for $10. I don’t think you can find better value in all of Manhattan – a whole meal, thats delicious and not mass produced for $10!?!?!

2. The wine. They have a decent size wine list with affordable choices that start around $28. They have an equal number of white selections and red, and I always seem to find myself ordering by the bottle. The staff are all able to help you select something if you are undecided, but I usually go with one of their full bodied reds, a shiraz or malbec.

3. The fondue. This place knows their cheese (shocking, right? They’ve named themselves after one). Better fondue than the Melting Pot, although there is no cook your own protein option, it’s either bread or veggies or both. It seems that every time a pot of their bubbly cheddar and ale fondue is placed in front of me, I find myself leaving the restaurant with small burns, as I’ve attempted to scrape every last drop of cheese out. They have a fondue with their namesake, and that is next on my list to try.

4. Their prices. You absolutely cannot argue with $10 for 4 tapas selections, $12 for 5 and $18 for 6! If you share with another person, which is plenty of food, you’re max going to pay $9 for your food! I like the accessibility of the place, where you can feel like you are getting a nice, sit down meal, but don’t feel like you can’t pass this on to anyone. I’ve taken so many people here, and would love to bring Padma and Tom, if they haven’t already been!!

5. The other things on the menu. Okay, I have to admit that I’m not very good at trying different things on the menu, but I’ve never been disappointed by my go-to dishes that its hard to break away. I’ve been so many times with a variety of people with different tastes, and I’ve yet to find anyone disappointed with their meal. I’ve heard rave reviews of the turkey meatballs and the chicken kebabs.

If you live in New York I suggest you visit (and take me too!) the next time you are looking for a relaxed and yummy experience. If you’re planning on visiting, make this a destination.

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